Lebanese presidential election postponed to Nov 21

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BEIRUT, Nov 10 (Reuters) Lebanon's presidential election has been postponed from November 12 to November 21, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said in a statement today.

Political sources said the delay was to allow rival Lebanese leaders more time to agree on a compromise candidate.

The parliamentary session to elect a president had already been postponed twice. The term of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud expires on November 23.

Electing a president is regarded as vital to resolving a year-old crisis in which the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora is at loggerheads with the pro-Syrian Hezbollah opposition.

The impasse has pushed Lebanon into its worst political crisis since the 1975-90 civil war and many Lebanese fear a failure to reach a deal could lead to two rival governments and bloodshed.

A French envoy had arrived in Beirut yesterday in a last-ditch effort to help resolve the standoff.

REUTERS SZ HS1759

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